The Life and Persecutions of John Wycliffe
My name is John Wycliffe and I lived in England in the 1300s. I was an ordained Catholic priest, and a scholar and teacher at Oxford University. Because of the influence of my teachers, I began to see the errors in the way the Catholic Church ordered that our Lord be worshipped, as well as the errors of church hierarchy. They were a hierarchy indeed, a bunch of hirelings who fleeced the sheep and tyrannized them.
Little by little, I let my views be known. I at once found people who received them gladly, some out of self-interest, but many out of relief to find that the God Who called Himself Love, really was that, and not the monster His so-called church on Earth behaved as. Not to say that there weren't many sincere believers in the church, but those were the silent ones who didn't raise the standard, but chose to drift along and not rock the boat.
But I had to rock the boat, and many loved me for it. Many times I was threatened with excommunication, which in those days meant no one could associate with me, let me buy food from them, or receive shelter from them. But I just shrugged those threats off and they came to naught. The enemies of Christ like to try and scare you with a lot of bluff and bluster, but it is mostly that, just hot air.
I was summoned to appear before the bishops on several occasions. The first time, my friend and patron, John, the second son of the king, marched in on one side, and the marshal of England, another friend, marched with me on the other. The bishop of London was furious when he saw the support I had! The bishop and Duke John spent the entire time shouting at each other, and by the time they were finished, the whole thing was such a fiasco that I just went home, laughing and praising God.
Another time the same bishop, who was now Archbishop of Canterbury, summoned me again to explain myself and face charges. This time the queen mother wrote all the bishops and told them they had better not consider doing me any harm-else they might find their own necks on the line. That was enough to keep that bunch of cowards from voting to do anything to me. So once again I went home laughing and praising God.
Then I fell out of favor with some of my royal friends, but this setback just freed me from many of my duties so that I could get to work on the job I really had wanted to do for years, and that was to translate the Bible into English so that the people could hear the Good News in their own language. I say, “hear,” because most people couldn't read, but at least they could understand if it was spoken to them. Before, all they had available was Latin, and the common people hardly understood a word of that. So what looked like a disappointment and an end of a career turned out to be His appointment to a far more enduring work and legacy.
I sent lots of people out to preach the Good News in the language of the people. “The poor preachers,” they were called, because they had no possessions except the Word. Lots of people were enlightened and came to understand who Jesus really was and what His message was to them.
Then the Pope, whom I like to compare to an Antichrist, ordered me to come to Rome. He wanted to deal with me himself and would have probably burnt me at the stake before I had even set foot in that city. Talk about a kangaroo court. Anyway, by that time I was too old and sick. So I wrote back thanking him for the invitation but that I would have to decline his kind offer. Ha! I died in my bed a little while later.
Many people would have killed me if they'd had the chance. I walked around a good deal of my life with the martyr's crown just inches from my head, but it never had to descend. I had enemies but I also had many friends who stuck by me when I needed them most.
Oh, of all the silly things, the Pope ordered my body dug up, my bones burnt, and the ashes dumped into a river about 40 years after my death. Talk about ridiculous! Well, all those ashes washing down the river were symbolic of the things I had set in motion that couldn't be stopped. Like seed, the words went everywhere and there are many people sitting in Heaven today because of them. All the persecution or threats of it did was to cause the Good News to be spread. The threats and railings were a lot of hot air that blew the seeds to all corners of the world. As far the effect on me, all it did was add to the stars in my crown.
And that is what it will do for you too. Don't fear persecution. Ride the wave and let it heap up for you rewards in Heaven as your testimony and the Word of God is preached in all the world. I look forward to seeing you all up here some day. Until then, keep up the good work! (End of message.)
Copyright © 2005 by The Family International
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